When an elephant is young, if a trainer puts a chain around its leg and restrains it from moving far, the young elephant will initially try to escape.
After trying for a while, the animal realizes that escaping is futile and gives in to the restraint, enabling the trainer to control the elephant for the rest of its life. From then on, all that is required is a chain around its leg and a wooden peg in the ground that you or I could pull out, but the elephant doesn’t.
Because it doesn’t think that it can.
As an adult elephant conditioned by a past experience, he can now be tethered to a small tree with the thinnest of ropes or, in some cases, no rope at all. He makes no attempts to wander because he carries with him, for life, the belief that he does not possess the power to break the ties that bind him. The adult elephant could easily snap the rope or uproot the tree to which it is attached, but he makes no such effort, because early in life, he was taught that true freedom was not available to him. For the remainder of his life, he is tame and nothing like the captivating, powerful creature he was born to be.
Whilst that is very sad and inhumane, even sadder is that way that adult humans become restricted by the chains that they have around their legs.
Steve Jobs puts this conditioning brilliantly in this 46 seconds video:
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
To break out of this ‘chain’ if you think you have been here before you need to constantly challenge everything around you. Don’t accept anything just because someone says it. Challenge all your limiting beliefs. Because if you don’t, like that elephant with raging potential, you will find yourself constrained by limiting beliefs.